Bruce Nauman CLEA RSKY and LAAIR


NAUMAN, Bruce. CLEA RSKY. N.p.: Castelli Gallery, n.d. [1968].
Square 4to.; illustrated throughout in color; printed wrappers; staple-bound. Fine.
First edition.
[and]
NAUMAN, Bruce. LAAIR. New York: Multiples Inc., 1970.
Square 4to.; illustrated throughout in color; printed wrappers; staple-bound. Fine.
First edition; one of 1,200 copies.

CLEAR SKY was a way to have a book that only had colored pages--pictures of the sky. I like the idea that you are looking into an image of the sky, but it is just a page. LA AIR was the same idea, but it is also a response to CLEAR SKY using polluted colors instead. —Bruce Nauman
Few works of contemporary art have so intransigently defied exegesis as this pair of books, and despite the straightforward description of them quoted above, this unresolved quality seems to have been Nauman’s point. The words of titles are printed so they don’t immediately register (Clean? Risky? Lair?) and this potential for mis-reading suggests that one might just as easily mis-read the contents. Images of the sky? Or just swatches of color? This difficulty seems even to extend to the problem of describing the books bibliographically. For example, both were published with Nauman’s signature printed on the back cover, but one frequently sees them described as “signed” in catalogs or library citations. Different reference works render their titles variously as Clear Sky, Clearsky, Clear Sky, Clea Rsky, LA Air, L.A. Air, or Laair. Likewise, there seems to be no general agreement as to the publication date of CLEA RSKY, which different libraries and other reliable sources have listed as being anytime from 1967 to 1970. We think it’s 1968, but to be honest we’re not absolutely certain either…  
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